Modern society has conditioned people to look for off the rack solutions to all of life’s problems. “There is an App for that!”, or so we are told. The legal community is not immune from this mindset. Lawyers too succumb to the siren song of quick, easy, and most important of all, fast fixes. After all, there is a vibrating device in their pockets begging for attention, not to mention family, health and all of life’s other distractions. “If I just had the right go-by motion to suppress, my problems would be solved.” “If I just apply the cross-examination technique taught by so-and-so guru at the latest continuing legal education seminar, then no witness can stand in my way.” “If I just use the right AI assisted document review software, then I won’t have to look at all these dastardly documents”
Too often lawyers succumb to this siren song. They plagiarize the briefing of another, possibly less skilled but harder working, colleague. They apply the cross examination technique they learned at the CLE seminar without stopping to consider whether it is the right approach for the witness. They never, with their own eyes, review the reams of discovery produced by opposing counsel.
Depending on the client’s expectations, this may or may not be the wrong approach. There is a range of service that is acceptable under State Bar Rules. After all, men shop at Suitmart just as they shop on Saville Row. And if Saville Row were the only game in town, very few would be able to dress at all. What is certainly wrong is promising the client custom and delivering ready to wear.
Excellent legal work is a long, painstaking and labor intensive process. The lawyer must start from scratch. Does this mean the lawyer should forget what she knows? Of course not. Presumably one of the reasons the client hired the lawyer was because of experience. What it does mean is that every piece of work product that comes out of that lawyer’s office must be tailored to the case. No shortcuts.